Vimpelcom, Russia’s second largest cellular operator by subscribers, has seen a drop in third-quarter earnings following a USD341 million foreign exchange loss. Net profit fell 41.3% to USD269 million, though this beat the USD201 million average prediction from analysts polled by Reuters. Sales jumped 45.3% to USD2.84 billion, in line with expectations. Vimpelcom says it is planning ‘a considerable capex reduction in 2009’ as it works to repay its USD1.8 billion debt. Chief Executive Officer Alexander Izosimov told reporters: ‘We have suspended all M&A activities. The top priority is debt repayment. Even if we do not get refinancing for 2009 and have to pay back debts with our own funds, we will be able to do it.’ He added: ‘While our operations have not yet been affected by the financial turmoil, we clearly understand that the company will not be immune to it.’ Vimpelcom had 57.8 million mobile subscribers across its operations in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Georgia at the end of September, including 39.8 million in its domestic market.